Batman is a 1989 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, directed by Tim Burton. The film stars Michael Keaton in the title role, as well as Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl and Jack Palance. The film, in which Batman deals with the rise of a powerful villain known as "The Joker", is the first installment of Warner Bros.' Batman film series. After Burton was hired as director, Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay. Batman was not greenlit until after the success of Burton's Beetlejuice (1988). Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman. Nicholson was cast as the Joker in a deal that included both salary and a portion of the box office profits. Filming took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989. The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million, while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. Uncredited rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems. Batman was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. It also inspired the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series, paving the way for the DC Animated Universe, and has left a legacy over the modern perception of the superhero film genre.
As a child, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) witnessed his parents' murder at the hands of a mugger. He vows to avenge their deaths in a lifelong battle against crime in the guise of Batman while concealing his secret identity, working in Wayne Enterprises and using its vast resources to build his crime-fighting arsenal. Years later, Gotham is under the control of crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). Despite the best efforts of newly-elected district attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and police commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle), the police department remains in Grissom's pocket. Reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photo-journalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) begin investigating the rumors of a mysterious vigilante dressed as a bat who has been terrifying criminals throughout the city. Vicki and Knox attend a benefit at Wayne Manor, where Bruce is taken by Vicki's charms. That same night, Grissom sends his second-in-command Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) to raid the Axis Chemical plant. After the police receive a tip-off and arrive to arrest him and his henchmen, Jack realizes he has been set-up by his boss, angered by his affair with Grissom's mistress. In the midst of the shoot-out, Batman arrives and takes out Napier's henchmen. In a bizarre accident caused by his own ricocheting bullet, deflected by Batman's metal-reinforced gauntlet, Napier's face is ripped open. Reeling from the pain, he topples over a platform rail but manages to grab a lower rail with one hand. Batman momentarily clutches Jack's free hand, but the grip is soon broken, and he falls into a large vat of toxic waste. Shortly thereafter, he emerges from an adjacent reservoir, his hair and skin discolored. Following a botched surgical attempt to repair his face, Jack is left with a permanent and twisted grin, giving him the appearance of an evil clown. Driven insane by his reflection, he fashions himself as "the Joker". After killing Grissom, the Joker takes over his empire and holds the city at his mercy by poisoning everyday hygiene products with "Smilex" gas, causing those using a certain combination of products to laugh to death. Batman attempts to track down the Joker, who has become obsessed with Vicki. During an altercation, Batman recognizes the Joker as the criminal who who killed his parents years before. Batman destroys the factory the Joker used to make the poisoned products. The Joker holds a parade through Gotham, luring its citizens on to its streets by dispensing money, intending to kill them with lethal gas. Batman foils his plan, but the Joker kidnaps Vicki and takes her to the roof of a cathedral. After Batman fights with the Joker and his henchmen, he says to his opponent that they "made each other" Batman would not exist had Napier not murdered his parents, and the Joker would not exist had Batman never met Napier. As the Joker tries to escape in a helicopter, Batman attaches a grappling hook to his foot and ties it to a gargoyle; the Joker falls to his death when the gargoyle comes loose from its moorings. As Vicki rides back to Wayne Manor, Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again.